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Nov 26, 2009

Save e-mail for low-energy periods

Boost your productivity: Do high-yield activities while your energy is highest and save e-mail for low-energy periods. It is the main idea from Marsha Egan's article published on WomenEntrepreneur.com.

We can all point to specific periods of the day when we have great energy; times when we feel sharpest or are most productive. You might feel most productive in the morning--or you might be a night owl who does your best work after dark.

Studies have verified that our bodies behave in biochemical, physiological and behavioral cycles called circadian rhythms. "Circadia," literally translated from the Latin, means "around the day."

So if our bodies work in cycles, how can we make the best of them, rather than ignore or fight them? The challenge is to harness those windows of time to do and be our best. This is where self-knowledge becomes our greatest ally. The key to managing ourselves, our work and our lives is to truly know our style and understand what works for us, our strengths and our work cycles.

Keep reading...

Nov 19, 2009

Social networking has crept into the enterprise with little oversight

Beyond labor productivity...

(Excerpt from article by Forbes.com)

If the multibillion-dollar e-mail security industry has been built to prevent information from seeping out through personal communication, how is social networking in the workplace still going unchecked?

After all, consumer social apps such as Facebook and Twitter provide the same information-leakage threat as unsecured, personal e-mail--possibly more, thanks to the viral impact of broadcasting news tidbits to one's network of friends in real-time.

This question of enterprise social networking security has played out repeatedly in recent months as I watch Facebook and Twitter cross the digital divide from personal to business communications tools.

For the most part, social networking has crept into the workplace with very little oversight by IT because people are gradually--and often stealthily--discovering a second purpose (business) for their personal accounts.

More...

Nov 15, 2009

Brief essay about personal marketing through e-mail

How e-mail affect your personal image and reputation?

So, If you want to improve your chances for professional growth, you need to be more aware of the importance of your permanent marketing as an individual.

The same marketing techniques companies use to create a commercial brand, so consumers perceive it in a positive light and prefer it, can be used by professionals when they look for a job or in their work experience:

Nov 6, 2009

Email signature etiquette

(Fragment of article by Shelly Palmer)

Almost every email program lets you automatically add a signature to the emails you send. I'm sure you seen all kinds of interesting ones: flowery ones, very dense ones, and the horrifying and aesthetically offensive ones. What should yours look like? Here are a few simple guidelines:

First, every single email you send should have a signature. It should be plain text, so that it will look the same no matter what device or software is used to read it. When I say plain text, I mean just type (for geeks, ASCII text), no pictures, no logos, no html code, nothing but text.

Why? More than half the corporate world uses BlackBerrys to communicate. Depending on the vintage, they handle HTML over a wide range from, very poorly to marginally poorly.

The operating word here is "poorly," so why set up a signature that's guaranteed to torture a large number of corporate users. Overly ornate signatures will produce highly unexpected, and possibly unreadable, results on a BlackBerry.

This is also true for the body copy of the email. Tabs, bullets, any kind of alignment is all thrown out the window and HTML looks like jumbled computer code when it is displayed as text.

Another, and possibly more important, reason to use plain text is the wide range of spam filters that are currently deployed. Many of these filters look at the ratio of text to graphics as a test.

If you're email is already in HTML format, a logo or a combination of logo and your picture may kick you email into the corporate trash.

Like I said, signatures should be simple, complete and be in plain text.

Read full article

Oct 24, 2009

Is Twitter the new face of spam?

(Excerpt from article on AwarenessNetworks.com)

With Twitter being the hottest online space at the moment, marketers are trying to crack the code on getting to twitter users.

Lets face it, Twitter is broke, and in the exact same state email was at in the early days. Why not try to exploit it.

We tolerate a flow of junk because its new and cool. We can easily point to a relevant tweet to justify our obsession.

Spammers see an opportunity too and are mirroring genuine behavior. I see a number of tactics in use.

Don't be offended if you personally use these tactics for your own personal tweeting. Spammers want to look like you.

However, ask yourself if you use these tactics because you are trying to get the most out of the conversation, or are you personally trying to attract followers? You may be a spammer.

Read full article...

Oct 19, 2009

Like it or not, email is the nerve system of modern business

Compared to the phone, it is asynchronous and provides a written record to the sender and recipient for follow-up action or later reference. In this respect, it is much more useful than instant messaging or social networks.

It can be frivolous or deadly serious – it’s possible to be fired via an email, but also due to an email. Many vital decisions are made by email exchange, and the implication of our usage findings is that these may be made on the move, on tiny screens, and when otherwise off-duty.

Whether within their own office or between organizations separated by thousands of miles and many time zones, the sender will assume that all sent emails are received, and that they are read.

They will frequently expect a response within hours, let alone days. All this despite the ease of misaddressing, the hit-or-miss nature of mobile synchronization, the spam filters, the reply-to-all clutter, and the mass deletions required to stand any chance of keeping one’s inbox usable.

For many information workers, the email client is their primary business application. They spend many hours of the office day reading, responding and collaborating via emails.

The email history created by these responses and interactions is so poorly maintained, and the ability of knowledge workers to search for important content within current and past emails – their own and those of their colleagues – is so poor.

In a large organization, several millions of emails are handled each day. Most are of no lasting consequence, but each day there will be a significant number of important emails involving the organization in obligations, agreements, contracts, regulations and discussions, all of which might be of legal significance.

In this report of AIIM we discuss how these important records are being dealt with, what policies are in place, how aware staff are of the issues, and which technologies are in use.

Oct 15, 2009

Association for Information and Image Management, AIIM

AIIM is the community that provides education, research, and best practices to help organizations find, control, and optimize their information.

For over 60 years, AIIM has been the leading non-profit organization focused on helping users to understand the challenges associated with managing documents, content, records, and business processes.

AIIM is also known as the enterprise content management (ECM) association.

AIIM is international in scope, independent, and implementation-focused. As the industry's intermediary, AIIM represents the entire industry - including users, suppliers, and the channel.

As a neutral and unbiased source of information, AIIM serves the needs of its members and the industry through the following activities:

* Provides events and information services that help users specify, select, and deploy ECM solutions to solve organizational problems.

* Provides an educational roadmap for the industry.

* Creates opportunities that allow users, suppliers, consultants, and the channel to engage and connect with one another - through chapters, networking groups, programs, partnerships, and the Web.

* Acts as the voice of the ECM industry in key standards organizations, with the media, and with government decision-makers.

Resources about email managment on AIIM website.

Oct 12, 2009

Social media drives increased email use

Despite an initial hypothesis that increased time on social networks might be taking Americans away from their email, a Nielsen research analysis found that the heaviest social media users actually use email more, perhaps because of the steady stream of messages that social networks dump into participants’ inboxes.

Nielsen then examined the amount of time that each group spent on email in the year before the study, and subtracted the email consumption of those who do not use social media from those who do in order to account for possible external forces.

Study found that social media use appears to makes people consume email more, not less, particularly for the heaviest social media users.

In other words, findings make sense because social media sites such as Facebook send numerous and periodic status-update and notification messages to social media users’ email addresses.

See chart on MarketingCharts.com.

Oct 8, 2009

Information overload affects us all

(From Guy Kawasaki's article on Open Forum)

Kem Meyer is the communications director at Granger Community Church. Her book, Less Clutter. Less Noise, helps churches, businesses, schools and not-for-profits find ways to get the word out and, simply, do better. In this guest post, she explains how to simplify your marketing.

Information overload occurs when we receive more information than our brain can process. Even if it’s good information, too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore. Whether you’re an information addict or Zen advocate, information overload affects us all.

If you’d like to contribute something of real value that improves quality of life, it’s as simple as dialing back your own volume...

Life is overwhelming enough as it is. Your business, church, school, or social cause shouldn’t be piling on more and adding to the confusion. Look at your own emails, mailings, brochures, web site, and identify where you need to turn down your volume. It’s the right thing to do for everyone.

Here are five ways you should be looking to help reduce the stress for your customers...

Oct 7, 2009

Ways information overload may be causing you harm

Increased stress, impaired cognition, information addiction...

Most of us already know from experience that the abundance of information we enjoy today comes at a price.

Less apparent is the tremendous hidden cost information owerload imposes on the organization as a whole. But, incidentally, you can calculate the costs involved in the individual management of e-mail.

The possible link between information overload and suicides among employees at France Telecom may be spurious.

Research indicates that information overload can have a negative effect on such activities as organizational decision making, innovation, and productivity.

Time lost to handling unnecessary e-mail and recovering from information interruptions cost Intel nearly $1 billion a year.

Surprisingly few companies even acknowledge the problem, much less make any attempt to do something about it.

Read interesting article by Paul Hemp, on Harvard Business Review Editors' Blog.

But organizations could save a lot of time and money facing internal spam messages, by training their workers to approach written communication dynamic integrally.

If professionals learn when e-mail is better than others communication channels, why, and how to use it in those cases, they can reduce many of the inefficient information flow present today at work.

Yes, I know that it's only part of the challenge. But the amount of productivity related on internal spam is significative. An this is one of the contributions I want to do with my book Email at the workplace.

Oct 4, 2009

Questions about information overload at workplace

Is it a maligned phenomenon?

Is it a cultural crises?

How much distracting information decreases organizational productivity?

How it affects you personally and your proffesional image?

How many information overload can leave you feeling overwhelmed?

Are you going to read all email messages you receive?

Is today’s onslaught of information a bane or a boon?

What’s so bad about information overload?

Interesting conversation with Xerox CEO.

But... Among other things, you can face information overload understanding its dinamic. So, you can prevent a lot of messages that you produce without realizing.

Sep 30, 2009

Can information overload produce death?

The flood of information that swamps your job daily seems to produce more pain than gain.

It’s not just amount of of e-mail messages that cause you grief. It's also the vast ocean of information that invite you to go out and explore in order to keep up in your job.

Researches suggests that the surging volume of available information—and its interruption of people’s work—can adversely affect not only personal well-being but also decision making, innovation, and productivity.

People took an average of nearly 25 minutes to return to a work task after an e-mail interruption. That’s bad news for business.

Innovative tools and techniques promise relief for those of us struggling with information inundation. Some are technological solutions. Others prevent people from drowning by getting them to change the way they behave and think...

The fact that anyone can be an editor today is a kind of curse?

More @ Harvard Business Review article...

Sep 25, 2009

Leave the funny out of email

Anyone who has sent a humorous email that has confused — or worse, offended — someone knows the danger of trying to be funny in an email. Email does not convey tone.

How your message sounds to you when you type it has no relation to how the reader will interpret it.

Keep business email straightforward.

Pointing out that something's funny by using an emoticon can appear juvenile.

If you need to share your irresistible sense of humor, save it for phone calls or in-person meetings where tone can be more easily understood.

More info on Harvard Business Publishing

Sep 16, 2009

Tips for writing better email

Given the number of emails you send every day, you should be an email-writing expert, right? In case not, here are a few tips for effective messaging:

Ask for something. All business writing includes a call to action. Before you write your email, know what you're asking of your audience.

Say it up front. Don't bury the purpose of your email in the last paragraph. Include important information in the subject line and opening sentence.

Explain. Don't assume your reader knows anything. Provide all pertinent background information and avoid elusive references.

Tell them what you think. Don't use the dreaded "Your thoughts?" without explaining your own. Express your opinion before asking your reader to do the same.

Read the David Silverman's article...

Sep 11, 2009

When a phone call or face-to-face communication is better than an email?

How will you decide in the workplace when to use email, phone calls, or a quick meeting?

Remember these cases, where email is not the best mean (the most efficiently means to obtain the best result at the best price):

* To urgent messages (unless there is a previous and explicit agreement with the recipient).

* To discussions or arguments (unless you have large literary skills, in which case you will require much more time writing than a phone call).

* To clarification of meanings or intentions from messages previously sent.

* To messages filled with strong emotions.

* To ironic messages (the irony basically contains nonverbal communication codes).

* To reprimand employees or fellow team members.

You know almost always in these cases, you end up calling your recipients or in a meeting with them.

And I know that every day there are many temptations to write messages of this kind, but believe me, it is much better not to.

In all situations above (without exception), you will get better results using the phone or a conversation face-to-face. Besides, you will save a lot of time and money, and you will protect your relational capital.

Sep 2, 2009

Emails versus phone calls or face-to-face communications

A British study in a company show that 56% of employees thought that e-mail was overused, since a telephone call or a personal communication could have been better.

In other words, could we says that around 50% of the e-mails managed daily in a company can be ineffective (from a communication point of view)?

When we use an e-mail to request information that is very important for us and we don’t receive an answer, we usually call by phone to make sure that the recipient is aware and provides a response.

Isn’t this a way of acknowledging that the e-mail we sent didn’t fulfill its objective, or that it potentially failed?

If we call a meeting via e-mail and the people don’t go, it is obvious that the communication objectives of this e-mail were not achieved. Therefore, many of our written messages are followed by "follow-up" telephone calls which at times become like a hunt.

Many people get anxious not knowing if the recipients understood the message, or if they grasped its urgency. This almost always translates into re-work because the sender invests additional time to call the recipient to see what he/she understood.

In situations like these, I suggest that you act carefully, no matter how anxious you feel, because in some cases a telephone call can be perceived as excessive and inappropriate pressure or that you are indirectly telling them that they are incompetent in their management of e-mail.

The stress produced by the great number of e-mails is part of a communication overload, with serious negative consequences on the productivity of work teams.

Actors in this drama are: Multiple phone calls (at the office, on the cell), text messages, the “Blackberry”, chats, and Skype calls.

See the study A simple approach to improving email communication...

Aug 29, 2009

Increased data loss risk for companies

Proofpoint, Inc. found that US companies are increasingly concerned about a growing number of data leaks caused by employee misuse of email, blogs, social networks, multimedia channels and even text messages.

According to the June 2009 study of 220 email decision makers at US companies with more than 1000 employees, organizations continue to embrace preventative measures -- some more drastic than others.

The pain of data leakage has become so acute in 2009 that more US companies report they employ staff whose primary or exclusive job is to monitor the content of outbound email (33 percent, up from 15 percent in 2008).

In addition, companies are regularly ordered to produce employee email as part of legal actions, exposing its contents to outside scrutiny.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of large US companies report that employee email was subpoenaed in the past 12 months.

When US companies investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information via email, blogs, multimedia channels, and/or social networks, the end result for the offending employee was generally very bad news.

Email still the #1 threat: 43 percent of US companies surveyed had investigated an email-based leak of confidential or proprietary information in the past 12 months. Nearly a third of them, 31 percent, terminated an employee for violating email policies in the same period (up from 26 percent in 2008).

Read an executive summary of Proofpoint's 2009 Research.

Aug 25, 2009

Watch out media multitaskers: Your brain is in danger

The increasing number of sources from which we get information at the same time, however, may be compromising our ability to focus on any of it and could actually be making it harder for us to multitask effectively.

With e-mails, phone calls, text messages and online social media all competing for our attention, often against a background of television, radio or music, our brains can reach information overload, research has suggested.

This appears to distract us from concentrating on particular activities, and also limits the ability to switch from one job to another — a key element of the multitasking that media omnivores often claim as their great strength.

The study, led by Clifford Nass, of Stanford University in California, is among the first to investigate whether cognitive abilities might be affected by the range of media that people regularly use. The results are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“With the diffusion of larger computing screens supporting multiple windows and browsers, chat and SMS, and portable media coupled with social and work expectations of immediate responsiveness, media multi-tasking is quickly becoming ubiquitous,” the scientists wrote. “These changes are placing new demands on cognitive processing, and especially on attention allocation.”

More info from TimesOnLine.com->

Aug 22, 2009

If you want to improve written communication skills

A decade ago it seemed an exaggeration to say that a person without a minimum of knowledge in Office (Microsoft) would have many difficulties finding a job; today this is a reality.

Perhaps it also sounds exaggerated to say that in five years it will be difficult to find a job if we don’t have excellent written communication skills (remember that knowing how to write doesn’t mean knowing how to communicate).

It is essential to expand our vocabulary and improve the way in which we structure and present information.

Go to writing courses and seminars. If you can, get a post-graduate degree in social communication, with emphasis in written journalism: given its objectivity and amplitude, the journalistic style is a good writing example to follow.

Have practical books and writing guides on hand. When we write, it is always useful to have references to look for synonyms or to be sure about the meaning of certain words.

Resources I recommend:
* http://dictionary.reference.com
* http://www.wordreference.com
* http://education.yahoo.com
* http://www.merriam-webster.com
* The Element Of Style
* The Associated Press Stylebook
* The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage

By constantly expanding our vocabulary we avoid "fillers" and common place words, and dodge being repetitive or rhetorical. In other words, the larger is our vocabulary, the less "blah blah blah" we write.

But be careful: some people use their vocabulary to write in an incomprehensible manner. The purpose of having a broad vocabulary is not to show-off our knowledge, but to have the resources to communicate in the simplest, more efficient way possible.

If you want to improve your professional reputation and have better sales opportunities, you need to be more aware and observant of your permanent personal marketing process through e-mail.

Aug 18, 2009

Senders must constantly cultivate trust and credibility

If people make a special effort in their written communications, they can nourish enough trust, and create a wide contextual framework so that e-mails convey the affinity necessary to be effective, as in fact occurs in many of our e-mail communications.

But for this to happen, senders must constantly cultivate trust and credibility with their interlocutors (key elements of personal marketing), and improve their writing skills so that they can compensate for the non-verbal components of interpersonal communication.

On the other hand, the quality of attention that our e-mails receive, and the attitude of our recipients when they read them are for the most part values determined by the positioning we cultivate as professionals and users of e-mail.

Our positioning (or reputation) as senders determines our capital of credibility, trust, and ability to generate positive responses to our requests, and the quality of our written messages increase or reduce that capital.

As with products, services, companies or institutions, people are more prone to respond positively to people that make them feel better through e-mail, due to satisfactory and positive experiences in the exchange of information.

What is the positioning we form of a person who sends many messages every day, or of the person who never responds?

What is our opinion of co-workers whose messages are difficult to understand, or who send lengthy messages, or always send "chain letters"?

Each e-mail affects your personal reputation...

Aug 13, 2009

Essential requirements for written messages

Body language references are essential to understand the foundations of an effective "mediated communication" through e-mail, a challenge we face to convey affinity and empathy in writing.

The absence of non-verbal and physical clues in written communication makes it substantially more difficult for the recipient to receive the sender’s key information regarding emotions and attitudes. This determines the perception and final interpretation of the written message.

When we communicate by e-mail with people we know, the process is different than with strangers.

Knowing our recipients and senders provides more contextual information about their personality, affinities, communication styles, and intentions.

Therefore, e-mail exchanges have a social and relational framework that facilitates understanding and effective communication.

But there are many cases of misinterpretation, confusion, and misunderstanding of written messages between people that know each other well.

Even people who care for each other can easily badly judge the implicit intention of a written message.

However, people can adapt to the media and make it efficient. There are social-emotional and relational expressions that not only depend on non-verbal communication clues.

That is why many people can in many cases use e-mail very productively as a communication channel. They adapt their language and verbal style to the demands of written communication, according to their intentions.

Do's for email productivity (best managment practices)

Aug 8, 2009

Improving e-mail usage at the workplace

Million American adults use e-mail at work, and email use has become more pervasive with each passing year.

Most work emailers use e-mail daily to communicate and share information with colleagues and clients.

While email use is necessary and often beneficial, many organizations fail to see the serious dangers email poses when employees aren’t trained to handle e-mail professionally.

After all, every e-mail sent from a work email account reflects directly on the organization and remains on servers and networks even after it is deleted from an Inbox.

Inappropriate e-mails —whether sent intentionally or forwarded to an unknown and unintended audience— can mutilate the reputation your organization’s worked so hard to establish.

Believe it or not, your e-mails and those of your employees reflect directly on the sender and his or her employer.

Email at the workplace explains the best practices that will ensure professional and effective email communication.

It also covers the dangers and pitfalls of improper or haphazard email use and instructs employees how to craft precise and purposeful business emails.

Email at the workplace provides the basis for an effective email usage policy for your organization, and lets you easily and quickly:

* Prepares employees to craft effective & purposeful emails.

* Show the factual consequences of e-mail misuse.

* Illustrate how to handle e-mail professionally.

* Teaches how to avoid common e-mail blunders & oversights.

Buy now on Amazon.com.

Aug 3, 2009

It is more difficult to master written communication

There is no doubt that e-mail provides transcendental advantages as a tool for communication, work, study, research and filing, and its influence is growing in all aspects of people’s lives, in all countries and cultures.

However, the process of assimilating e-mail has occurred with insufficient preparation. In some cases, training is provided on a specific e-mail program (for example "Outlook").

In others, there are "policies" on the use of e-mail, but they mainly have to do with the need for security and control of computer systems.

We assume that to know how to write is to know how to word things correctly, and that it is enough to communicate efficiently in writing.

Other times we think that if we write as we speak, we will be understood. However, it is more difficult to master written communication than verbal and non-verbal communication.

E-mail has a great influence in our personal image. The number of messages we send, the way we write them, their length, and even the time when we write them says a lot about the quality of professionals we are.

How fast we respond to messages, if we read them carefully, and even if we send a copy to another recipient, are some of the aspects that contribute to create a public reputation of our work performance.

Read more about e-mail productivity...

Jul 28, 2009

Frequent complaints with e-mail at the workplace

"It seems that Peter has nothing else to do than send e-mails. I get his messages all the time. They are very long and difficult to understand".

"Mary is very inconsiderate: She keeps sending chain letters. Doesn’t she know that I’m very busy and have no time for those foolish things? They also fill up my inbox and prevent other important messages from arriving".

"Joe always copies messages to the boss: He cannot be trusted. I know we must document our work, but why didn’t he call me first? We would have clarified the situation and then write a message with what we agreed on".

If to this we add the great number of "spam" messages we receive, and the number of copied messages that are useless to us, we can understand the increasing stress that managing e-mails produces in our work.

The productivity of this tool is greatly associated to our personal reputation. That is, our effectiveness in managing e-mail is reflected by whether we achieve the purpose of a message or not.

For example, if we write "too many" e-mails, it is likely that recipients will start to ignore them, particularly those that are in the "Cc" field.

If we want to improve our effectiveness in the use of e-mail, we need to understand how they act, and what do recipients value more in our written messages, in order to positively affect their perceptions and attitudes.

Likewise, we must deal with each recipient in the most personal way possible, taking into account the emotional impact that written words have and the structure of the e-mail.

Jul 20, 2009

Planning e-mail personal marketing

First of all, we need to be more aware of the fact that we are always marketing ourselves as individuals.

This means that we need to take more into account the fact that we are always affecting the perception others have of us. We are always influencing that perception positively or negatively.

We affect others with what we do or don’t do, and also with what we say or don’t say. So, we start defining our personal marketing and communication plan with the following questions:

* "How do I want to be known and remembered as a professional?"

* "With what values do I want others to associate me?"

The answers to these questions provide the guide we need on the type of actions we must take to positively affect others and obtain the professional perception we desire.

Second, we need to have a wide perspective of who our "clients" are. This can efficiently be established answering the following question: "Who can speak about me, positively or negatively, as a professional and as a person?".

Our marketing strategies and tactics must be oriented towards all of them. Our clients are the individuals with whom we interact directly or indirectly, who are important to us professionally, and who can recommend us to others.

In a society where jobs are so interconnected, "external clients" are just as important for our personal marketing as are our co-workers, including bosses, staff in other departments, and suppliers.

Yes, this answer is very broad because the most frequent marketing mistakes are made in part by underestimating the range of influence that the public or audience with whom we interact as clients have.

Finally, being more aware of our personal marketing implies being more aware of the tools we use to communicate our skills, competencies, values, and benefits. That is, we need to keep our interpersonal communication channels and media fine tuned.

These are made up by all our interpersonal communications, whether face-to-face, telephonic, or through e-mail, and by the form and content we convey through these means. That is, our body and our behavior are like our mobile marketing channels, with verbal and non-verbal messages.

In this context, e-mail increasingly has a greater impact on the professional image we project as individuals.

Therefore, a better understanding of the factors that make written communication effective will allow us to assertively manage those aspects that determine our reputation through this means.

Jul 16, 2009

Our poor brains are definitely suffering information overload

Scientists fear that a digital flood of 24-hour rolling news and infotainment is putting our primitive grey matter under such stress that we can no longer think wisely or empathise with others.

Researches suggests that we may have reached an historic point in human evolution, where the digital world we have created has begun to outpace our neurons’ processing abilities.

The concerns have been raised by published studies which indicate that streaming digital news may now run faster than our ability to make moral judgments.

Rapid info-bursts of stabbings, suffering, eco-threat and war are consumed on a “yes-blah” level but don’t make us indignant, compassionate or inspired. It seems that the quicker we know, the less we may care — and the less humane we become.

One fear is that habitual rapid media-browsing can, ironically, block our ability to develop wisdom.

Researchers at the University of California, announced recently that they had compiled compelling evidence that even the universal traits of human wisdom — empathy, compassion, altruism, tolerance and emotional stability — are hard-wired into our brains.

In Archives of General Psychiatry, Professor Dilip Jeste says that neurons associated with those attributes seem to be sited primarily in areas of the prefrontal cortex — the slower-acting, recently evolved regions of our brain that are bypassed when the world feels stressful and our primitive survival instincts grab the controls.

“Constant bombardment by outside high-intensity stimuli is not likely be healthy. It may prevent people from having an opportunity to digest the information, match it with culturally resonant reactions and then execute well-considered behavioural responses.”, Jeste says.

This concern is reflected in research by scientists at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute.

Their brain-scan studies show that, while we pick up signs of other people’s pain and fear in a flash, it can take significantly longer for our minds to develop socially evolved responses such as compassion.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition, used real-life stories to induce admiration for virtue or skill, or compassion for physical or social pain, in 13 volunteers.

Brain imaging showed that the volunteers needed six to eight seconds to respond fully to stories of virtue or social pain — far longer than their brains needed to react at an unemotive level.

“The rapidity of attention-requiring information, which hallmarks the digital age, might reduce the frequency of full experience of emotions, with potentially negative consequences,” the research paper cautions.

Our information flood is about to become a dam-burst. In 2006 the world produced 161 exabytes (an exabyte is one billion billion bytes) of digital data, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. That is three million times the information contained in all the books ever written.

By next year, the total is expected to reach 988 exabytes. Personal data-consumption is growing exponentially: while Westerners continue to watch an average of eight hours of television each week, the time that they spend online rose by 24 per cent between 2006 and 2007, according to a study by Compete, the online market researchers.

“Our poor brains are definitely suffering information overload,” says Felix Economakis, a London-based chartered psychologist who specialises in stress.

“Technology is making quantum leaps, bombarding us with new things to focus on, but we have not been able to catch up and adapt. Our brains’ attention levels are finite. When everything is screaming at us, we start withdrawing so that normally nice people become unempathetic.

“The primitive fear centre in the brain, called the amygdala, operates in terms of fight or flight. Information overload makes it feel under threat and it shuts down higher brain regions that deal with empathy. You end up less likely to support others — but because you feel stressed, you want to be supported by the people around you. They are feeling stressed and withdrawn, too. Everyone is demanding support and not giving it. The irony of high-speed modern mass communication is that no one is actually communicating.”

More info from TimesOnLine.co.uk

Jul 13, 2009

Each e-mail affects your personal reputation

Your success with e-mail is a result of your personal reputation.

How much attention does your messages receive?

How many of them are opened and read?...

And from messages read, how many of them are misunderstood or need a phone call to be explained?

How many of the answers you suppose to get you really get?

All these evidences of your effectiveness with your electronic mails are subject to your personal reputation.

Personal reputation depends on trust and credibility that we have planted in our addressee. So, reputation is a personal capital and competitive advantage.

If you want to be more efficient with your e-mails you should cultivate and protect your reputation as a sender.

Your reputation is the sum of your "hows". In your e-mail at the workplace, reputation is build it on your frequency, style, structure, grammar ... And on the use of best practices in written communication.

E-mail reputaion leads: Arrives to the inbox before your messages, and remains there after your messages are deleted, either enhanced or decreased.

Your reputation records your past, but also creates expectations for the future.

So, after sending an email, what happens to it depends on the image before they grow.

Jul 6, 2009

Communication and attention are the essential components of relationships

We feel we are truly communicating with someone when we get their best attention and they listen to us. But when we feel we are not being paid attention, we feel ignored.

So, when we communicate, what matters is what we make our interlocutors feel with the way we communicate, which explains that people can more easily forget what we say or give to them, but not what we make them feel.

The way to give a correct message can have counterproductive effects, particularly if it is in writing, so many of the unproductive e-mail discussions that take place in companies could be avoided.

People are willing to accept many of the issues they receive in writing if they were delivered orally.

Of course, I imagine that right now you are thinking that those e-mail discussions are justified because they also cover the company’s need to leave a written record of what is said, and you are right, because many times it is essential to document communication processes.


However, e-mail communication in companies would be more efficient if work teams emphasized documenting the agreements and learning experiences that were obtained more quickly through telephone or face-to-face conversations.

In order to have productive and efficient written discussions or clarifications, people must have better writing skills to compensate the non-verbal clues that we normally use in face-to-face or telephone communication.

Our sensitivity towards written words...

Jun 30, 2009

Don't underestimate impact of what you write

We are the owners of what we keep to ourselves and the slaves of what we say. But with e-mail at the workplace: We are the owners of what we say orally and slaves of what we write.

Oral messages can make us feel bad momentarily, they are forgotten more easily than written messages. Nevertheless, written words remain as if carved in stone. They fire up our feelings more strongly than oral messages. Also, we relive those feelings every time we read them. They are files that remember what was done to us and what that made us feel.



This allows us to understand why most work discussions via e-mail can be so unproductive, particularly if we want to convey emotions and messages that are difficult to communicate, even orally.

If we complain in writing to a workmate, it is very likely that the relationship will suffer. Recipients tend to interpret the feelings they read and speculate about more strongly, thus making them perceive as a scream what would have been a perfectly tolerable observation.

When I ask what bothers people more of a work-related reprimand via e-mail, they always answer: "That it was in writing. Why didn’t she come to my post, or why didn’t he call to talk about it? Don’t they trust me or aren’t I worth a more direct communication?"

Communication is the main tool to build trust among work teams, but it can also destroy it. It is very difficult for people to flow in their team if they feel mistreated in their communications.

People will give their best effort if communication with the team is productive.

More about it...

Jun 25, 2009

Start managing e-mail more efficiently

Every day we get more e-mail than the day before: more urgent bussines communications, and more spam (external and internal). So, e-mail can easily eat up your whole day if you let it.

Here are some tips for managing your e-mail more efficiently:

1. Too much spam at workplace? Check with your IT department. They should be running software that removes most of these annoying messages before you see them. Not having to delete these e-mails or decide whether it’s safe to open them can be a huge time saver.

2. If you don’t need it, don’t keep it! Mailbox inflation is a real problem. If you don’t need a message, read it and delete it. The same holds true for replies. You should regularly go through your sent mail folder and delete what you don’t need.

3. E-mail systems are clogged with endless duplication of documents, particularly e-mail chains that get longer and longer with every version.

4. A lot of e-mails should never be sent in the first place. E-mail is not a particularly secure way of communicating. Sending sensitive information always is risky.

For some subjects, a phone call might be better; for others, a face-to-face talk might be the best solution.

Jun 18, 2009

Right messages is not enough for email productivity

Why some written messages sent to clients, providers or work mates always required verbal explanations or clarifications, although the e-mail contained all the information and was well written?

Why some e-mail "discussions" weren't completely satisfactory until there was a face-to-face conversation between those involved.

In 2004 I started to perceive the negative effects of e-mail, while providing consulting services to a technological corporation on the quality of their customer services.

Although the employees were specialized engineers with excellent education and were highly skilled in technology, they had difficulties writing e-mails to clients that didn’t require telephone or personal "clarifications".

In some complex cases of services provided to clients, the company’s credibility and trust was satisfied only after verbal communication, and not with a written message.

People may have a good technical education, but they have a hard time realizing that in some cases e-mail is not the best communication media to get credibility and trust.

For them, it was the most comfortable medium, but it wasn’t the most efficient one for their clients.

They liked the benefit that they could write messages whenever they had the time, and not immediately, and that they didn’t have to listen or see the client in a difficult service situation. But they knew -paradoxically- that sooner or later, they would have to confront the client.

Always keep in mind that e-mail may not be the appropriate channel to communicate with clients in some situations. Particularly, the situations that involve strong emotions, and any degree of conflict

Jun 11, 2009

Email and website navigation merit different design tactics

Though many online marketers send emails that are very similar to their websites in terms of navigation and linking, major differences in the way consumers view emails vs. websites indicate that emails should be designed differently to achieve the best results, according to a recent report from Smith-Harmon.

The report, which is based on an analysis of website and email data for 100 top retailers collected in March and April 2009 by the Retail Email Blog, found that horizontal navigation bars, emails with fewer links, HTML coding (vs. images) and special tactics to highlight sales, seasonal specials and featured departments work best in emails.

Key highlights from the study:

* Horizonal navigation bars more visible: The study found that horizontal navigation bars are much more common in emails than vertical ones, which are used by fewer than 5% of retailers. This is because horizontal navigation bars are more likely to be seen in their entirety because of preview panes.

* Fewer links work better: Differences between email and website navigation and the length of time consumers view email generally mean fewer links should be included in email navigation than in website navigation. Rather than loading up a navigation bar with too many links, it is more effective to pick the top five or six best-performing site destinations and include those.

* HTML preferred for nav bars: It is better to use HTML so the links are be readable by the growing number of viewers who block images in emails by default. Currently 28% of horizontal email navigation bars use HTML text, up from just 15% last year.

* Other navigation links helpful: Using navigation links to help email viewers find other parts of a retail site and locate items of interest quickly - such as sales, stores, featured departments and seasonal merchandise is often an effective tactic.

See the report.

Jun 3, 2009

Internal marketing of e-mail company guidelines

Do not communicate and promote e-mail company guidelines (e-Standards) only through e-mails, or as a labor formality.

Use all communication channels available inside the company to sensitize and reinforce employee's commitment on this issue.

Don’t expect them to learn how to use better e-mail only with the manual of norms and procedures.

Employees need ample and detailed training on its risks, their rights, responsibilities, and the consequences of the improper use of this communication tool.

They need to know as well how much is the impact of some witten messages. Discussions or "clarifications" among teamwork could take many more time (and costs) than a phone call or a face-to-face meeting.

Don’t expect a single individual or department to be responsible of overseeing compliance to corporate policies on the use of e-mail. This is not strategical.

All managers and supervisors must provide support to monitor and model employee’s behaviors because otherwise good practices will not be adopted in a good will manner.

Remember, some bosses usually are the main rule-breakers, and their inconsistency doesn’t make it easy for employees to adopt e-Standards.

Bosses and others supervisors levels have to be first accomplish e-mail company guidelines. They are responsible for setting good examples.

Jun 2, 2009

Confronting the information overload

The average email user received more than 160 emails a day in 2008, according to figures from market research firm the Radicati Group.

A study by the University of California at Irvine tracked 36 office workers and found that employees spent just 11 minutes on a project before an email notification, phone ring or knock on the door interrupted them.

One tool to deal with information overload is a new plug-in for Microsoft’s email program Outlook 2007, called Email Prioritizer.

It lets you choose not have any email delivered to your inbox for a specified period of time or until your current meeting ends and lets you rank the importance of incoming email messages with zero to three stars.

Other products include Google’s Email Addict service; Xerox’s Hybrid Catgorizer that automatically scans, sorts, extracts and reviews electronic documents; and website monitoring technology such as WebSite Watcher and Copernic Tracker.

Read the complete article by Mark Frary for TimesOnline.com.

May 30, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly about email managment

AIIM’s research…

The survey was taken by 1,109 individual members of the AIIM community between March 23rd and April 3rd, 2009, using a Web-based tool. Invitations to take the survey were sent via e-mail to the AIIM community of 65,000.

On average, our respondents spend more than an hour and a half per day processing their emails, with one in five spending three or more hours of their day.

Over half have hand-held access by phones, Blackberries and PDAs. Two thirds process work-related emails outside office hours with 28 percent confessing to doing so “after work, on weekends and during vacations”.

“Sheer overload” is reported as the biggest problem with email as a business tool, followed closely by “Finding and recovering past emails” and “Keeping track of actions”.

Email archiving, legal discovery, findability and storage volumes are the biggest current concerns within organizations, with security and spam now considered less of a concern by respondents.

Over half of respondents are “not confident” or only “slightly confident” that emails related to documenting commitments and obligations made by staff are recorded, complete and retrievable.

Only 10 percent of organizations have completed an enterprise-wide email management initiative, with 20 percent currently rolling out a project. Even in larger organizations, 17 percent have no plans to, although the remaining 29 percent are planning to start sometime in the next 2 years.

Some 45 percent of organizations (including the largest ones) do not have a policy on Outlook “Archive settings,” so most users will likely create .pst archive files on local drives.

Only 19 percent of those surveyed capture important emails to a dedicated email management system or to a general purpose ECM system. 18 percent print emails and file as paper, and a worrying 45 percent file in nonshared personal Outlook folders.

A third of organizations have no policy to deal with legal discovery, 40 percent would likely have to search back-up tapes, and 23 percent feel they would have gaps from deleted emails. Only 16 percent have retention policies that would justify deleted emails.

Download the entire, 17-page report, containing 21 graphs and charts.

May 26, 2009

Why do companies need e-mail use guidelines?

At the workplace e-mail is a resource that belongs to the company. But sometimes people forget that because of labor rutines, work overwhelming, or because individual professional effort is so personal.

e-Standards could helps people have a better idea of the formality of using e-mail in the workplace, as documents that have direct legal implications for the company and for each employee.

In other words, companies needs more employees with more awareness of the consequences messages can have and a better effort to use the good practices of written communication.

To achieve this goals, companies must permanently and didactically show to each employe best practices using e-mail, and what behavior is expected from he or she, as a senders or receivers of digital messages.

Most people assume writing e-mail as something "natural", and take for granted that if you can write (if you know write) you can communicate efficiently by e-mail.

But with no doubt is harder to communicate by written than face-to-face. Written messages don't have the communicational advantages of body language, facial expression or tone of voice, which are part of a regular face-to-face communication.

If people at workplace suppose that they execute their responsability by sending e-mails, they wouldn't take in consideration the negative potential impact of certain written messages. So, they wouldn't care e-mail is not the propper means for team work in many cases.

That is why e-mail companies guidelines can help employees a lot. I offer you many ideas and electronic mail good practices in my book.

May 18, 2009

Other conditions for e-Standards success at the workplace

Standards on the use of e-mail (e-Standards) can be part of a document that also includes policies on computer security and the correct use of software and surfing Internet.

From a communication and practical point of view, we must remember that each topic will be dealt with more effectively if we approach them in a segmented way. This must be taken in consideration for the internal marketing of e-Standards.

e-Standards must be reviewed carefully with every employee at all levels in the company: newly hired as well as more experienced personnel, managers and supervisors, full-time, part-time, or temporary workers.

In many cases, it is also convenient to inform or update all suppliers of the company on the policies of the use of e-mail.

Since the company is interested in conveying the importance and formality of this issue, each employee should sign a copy of the e-Standards as proof that they have read and understood them. Although this adds commitment, training and internal information programs are also necessary as backup.

Since e-mail is a resource that belongs to the company, you must permanently and didactically remind employees of the company’s right to monitor and review the use of e-mail and Internet, whenever it is deemed necessary. Work tools and work information belong to the employer.

May 12, 2009

Companies should promote e-Standards

What does e-Standards means? Good practices using e-mail. Not only "norms" or "policies".

e-Standards are comprehensive written guidelines on the corporate use of e-mail, to advise positively employees on the behavior expected from them whem are using e-mail at the workplace.

e-Standards must not only establish what people "shouldn’t do" and the sanctions involved, as usually happens. They must neither be biased by the technological or security issues of e-mail.

When speaking of the duties of employees regarding e-mail, e-Standards must highlight individual advantages for fulfilling them (essential key for the success of their marketing inside the teamwork).

The following are ideal conditions for company’s e-Standards to be more effective and taken in consideration by employees:

* Explain their origin and purpose as widely as possible. People will be more sensitive to the subject if they know details about risks, costs, good practices, real cases, and possible consequences.

* This shouldn’t be perceived as an issue only for the legal, security or human resource departments. e-Standards involves everybody in the company, and they are a bussines priority. So, the commitment must start at the upper management.

* Bosses and employees must follow the same e-Standards, a minimum consistency expected by employees in order to believe and implement them.

* The dissemination of these e-Standards must be done in a constant internal marketing and training plan. The effectiveness of this induction depends on the proper company’s initiatives to maintain them in the long term.

May 11, 2009

Hey you, supervisor, don't use e-mail in this situations

I can tell you many others situation which e-mail is not the best means for communicating with your team players, but these are the practices that you have to avoid using e-mail at the workplace as supervisor:

1. Don’t use e-mails to give bad news or fire an employee.

Remember that this channel doesn’t have the communicational advantages of body language, facial expression or tone of voice.

Employees feel more respected when bad news are given in person.

Face-to-face meetings give employees the chance to ask questions, “digest” information better, and identify their options.

2. Don't use e-mail to discuss the performance of an employee with other managers.

It is a matter of simple professional courtesy, and there is no risk that the information will become public.

The best way to have these kind of conversations is in personal, closed-door meetings, or through a telephone call.

Written negative comments about an employee can later be used against the manager to erode team spirit and the feeling of identity with the company.

3. Don't minimize face-to-face contact in your daily work.

E-mail is a fantastic resource that allows us to save a lot of time, and although some work mates feel fine with having almost all communication electronically, many others feel devalued if they don't also receive personal attention.

E-mail must not replace the personal contact between supervisors and supervised.

Even in the Internet age, nurturing healthy human relations is still an essential skill for the success of all types of businesses.

May 6, 2009

E-mail doesn’t communicate: It is only a media

With e-mail as a tool, informing doesn’t automatically mean that we are communicating with our recipients. Communication occurs when our recipient reacts in accordance to our purposes and intentions. E-mail does not communicate, you communicate (or not).

All the fields in an e-mail have meaning for the recipient, from the time the message was sent, to the way in which it was signed (Too formal?... Informal?... No signed?).

Each e-mail element affects our perception of every message pertinency, which in turn reflects the level of effectiveness of our communication effort.

The sender has the responsibility of generating bidirectional written communication through the computer. It is the position where the interaction condition is created and stimulated. With e-mail, everything start at the fingers of senders.

The chances to be effective are very low if we send e-mails covered by the investiture of a corporate position. And the opposite happens when we communicate trying to nourish the legitimacy of our personal leadership, because we write with more humbleness and assertiveness.

The e-mails we send most positively affect our recipients when we write them using a perspective that is committed to excellence in customer care and service. This approach provides a more creative view to give responses (written or not) geared to help our interlocutors.

Apr 30, 2009

Are we technology abusers?

Daily e-mail at the workplace volume for many people is the main source of stress and lack of productivity.

Of course, e-mail is one of the most wonderful communication tool ever invented. There are no doubts about its benefits. But the amount of digital massages that you maybe have to handle each day could be unmanageable.

No few workers erase their entire inboxes. Many admit the difficult to set up priorities or distraction facing big email quantities makes it near impossible to get work done.

Several professionals confess that they turns off their computers and BlackBerrys to get their "real work" done. It's amazing, isn't?

But the real challenge is that people can't deal with all the information in their inboxes. A lot of times it's very hard to remember and find what folder you stored that e-mail or who sent you that message.

Companies are trying some answers to the e-mail overload issue. For example, discouraging the use of the "replay all" feature, wich generates lots of extra messages. This is a good idea.

But teamworks must promote spaces for meeting and exchange, where teammates can voice their concerns as senders and recipients, establish opportunities for improvement, and receive opportune coaching.

Everybody at the workplace need to develop an awareness in the use of e-mail. Otherwise, the benefits of this communication channel will disappear due to the irrational and indiscriminate number of messages send. It is only a matter of time.

So, you must implement specific training and coaching programs on e-mail communication. Training is urgently needed on the factors that determine the productivity of e-mail, as well as on good writing skills.

Apr 24, 2009

Workplace email productivity

There is no doubt that e-mail provides transcendental advantages as a tool for communication, work, study, research and filing, and its influence is growing in all aspects of people’s lives, in all countries and cultures.

However, the process of assimilating e-mail has occurred with insufficient preparation. In some cases, training is provided on a specific e-mail program (for example "Outlook"). In others, there are “policies” on the use of e-mail, but they mainly have to do with the need for security and control of computer systems.

We assume that to know how to write is to know how to word things correctly, and that it is enough to communicate efficiently in writing. Sometimes we know how to word things well, and this is enough to communicate efficiently in writing.

Sometimes we think that if we write as we speak, we will be understood. However, it is more difficult to master written communication than verbal and non-verbal communication.

The productivity of this tool is greatly associated to our personal reputation.

That is, our effectiveness in managing e-mail is reflected by whether we achieve the purpose of a message or not. For example, if we write “too many” e-mails, it is likely that recipients will start to ignore them, particularly those that are in the "Cc" field.

If we want to improve our effectiveness in the use of e-mail, we need to understand how they act, and what do recipients value more in our written messages, in order to positively affect their perceptions and attitudes. Likewise, we must deal with each recipient in the most personal way possible, taking into account the emotional impact that written words have and the structure of the e-mail.

This is my email survival guide, full of personal solutions and tips.

Apr 20, 2009

E-mail has a great influence in our personal image

The number of messages we send, the way we write them, their length, and even the time when we write them says a lot about the quality of professionals we are.

How fast we respond to messages, if we read them carefully, and even if we send a copy to another recipient, are some of the aspects that contribute to create a public reputation of our work performance.

Here are some expressions that are increasingly frequent in the work place:

"It seems that Pedro has nothing else to do than send e-mails. I get his messages all the time. They are very long and difficult to understand".

"María is very inconsiderate: She keeps sending chain letters. Doesn’t she know that I’m very busy and have no time for those foolish things? They also fill up my inbox and prevent other important messages from arriving".

"José always copies messages to the boss: He cannot be trusted. I know we must document our work, but why didn’t he call me first? We would have clarified the situation and then write a message with what we agreed on".

If to this we add the great number of "spam" messages we receive, and the number of copied messages that are useless to us, we can understand the increasing stress that managing e-mails produces in our work.

So, be aware about what personal image you are building right now with your worplace email.

See common mistakes in email managment.

Apr 14, 2009

When not to use email at work

If you don't want to waste time (and money):

1. You suspect your written message may be misunderstood or misconstrued.

Emotional written messages are likely to be interpreted according to the mood of the recipient and not by the intention of the sender.

2. You want to deliver bad news or discuss an emotionally charged matter.

Without the benefit of facial expressions, intonation, and body language, hurt feelings could ensue and flame wars could erupt if you deliver bad news electronically.

3. You hold a give-and-take conversation or want to conduct negotiations.

Dialogues that call for back-and-forth discussion are best be held on the phone or in person. Examples: To negotiate a price reduction with a supplier or persuade your supervisor to give you a pay raise.

4. You want an immediate or urgent answers.

Remember, unless a prior agreement, your recipients are not there, waiting for your emails.

5. A message is extremely important or confidential, and you cannot risk a breach of privacy.

E-mail is not a secure medium. So, never use this channel to communicate sensitive corporate information. There are millions of hidden readers and dastardly hackers lurking in cyberspace.

More suggestions on how to save time and money in my book Email at the workplace.

Apr 8, 2009

Steps to maximize email efficiency

The first challenge is to acknowledge that you can't absorb everything you think you need to know. Once you master that mental obstacle, things get easier.

You will be able to prioritize, delegate and just let things slide. You don't have to answer or even read everything that comes your way.

The idea of eliminating information is barely thinks. But this is about self-preservation.

Second, as you limit content, you'll learn to savor it more. Be ruthless as you can through all the "e-noise" and clear your decks for the important stuff.

Get started by spending sometime deciding what sources of information and intelligence are critical for you and your job. What are "must" reads?

Boil it all down to the highest-quality stuff, and read that first. Cancel or get rid of what's only marginal.

When you're the one doing the communicating, be more economical in everything you write, publish, broadcast and post online.

Read more on Forbes.com

Apr 2, 2009

The productivity of workers is jeopardized by too much e–mail

A downside of cheap communication, like the email, is that there is way too much of it.

The sheer volume of e-mail information flow seriously, threatens theirs advantages as knowledge workers suffer from a chronic state of mental overload, reduced productivity and a declining sense of well–being.

E–mail is becoming a tragedy, encouraging casual placement of corporate spam in the in–boxes of all.

Information overload exists for all business communication channels.

Instant messages, system alerts, phone calls, visits from co–workers and even self–interruptions occur so frequently that workers rarely have more than five minutes of focused work before an interruption occurs.

If users take an average of one minute to read and respond to each message, the current volume consumes more than a quarter of an eight–hour day.

With projected growth of incoming messages, workers could spend 50 percent of their workday managing e–mail by 2009. How much of that time is and will productive?

It's true, many of that time has profit value. But how many hasn't?

In order to establish parameters to measure the productivity related to e-mail, see this method: Costs of reading e-mails in companies.

Mar 31, 2009

"Lack of time" classic example with the email at workplace

Considering the negative effects that some written messages can have on productivity in the workplace, we could say that communication through e-mail can sometimes be rather "non-communicational".

In one of my consulting jobs on the strategic management of communication in customer care, I mentioned an alternative to be more proactive in the recurrent crisis that occurred when a massive technological service stopped working.

The technical support team could detect the technical shortcoming before clients did. So I told them to send an e-mail to those affected, warning them about the inconvenience, and informing them about the actions they would take to solve the situation.

In this way they could avoid surprises and clients wouldn't be annoyed by the service interruption and wouldn’t call to find out what was happening.

Although they fully agreed with our recommendation, and confirmed they could implement it, they didn’t. Sending that anticipated e-mail helped them avoid a lot of additional pressure caused by angry clients. However, they didn’t send it for a very simple reason: They didn't have the time to do it.

These were very smart and technically skilled people, so I had a hard time understanding why they didn’t take the initiative to send such a strategically important mail.

I continued investigating their daily activities, and found something that was surprising at the time, but later I realized it happened in many cases in this and almost all companies.

Being a mass consumption service company, it wasn't strange for them to receive some e-mails from angry clients who were dissatisfied by the quality of the technical support or attention they received.

Many of these messages were written in critical, demanding or "harsh" language (commonly used by clients complaining because they are disappointed with the attention they receive).

However, the source of this "lack of time" began when the recipients of those written complaints unconsciously added emotions that made feel offended by the client's message and took those criticisms and demands personally.

As a result, they ended up investing considerable amounts of time to respond to what they assumed was an offense, to "put the client in his/her place"... And... Guess how much time they used to do that?

This is a very common situation at the workplace. Therefore, a lot of personal time is unproductive and wasted.

So, if you want more time you need to improve your professional managment of email. See my survival guide.

Mar 23, 2009

Don’t forget the cost of spam

Even the small percentage of spam that gets through to workers can cost companies thousands, according to a report from security firm McAfee.

Though malware and preventing breaches hold the headlines – and the attention of many IT departments – spam can still be an issue.

Spam is not going away. Spammers are always thinking of new and innovative ideas.

While McAfee suggested those lost minutes could cost a firm of a thousand workers some US$182,500 in lost productivity, it’s always difficult to put a number on it.

McAfee says there is a difference between spam filters that offer 95 per cent coverage and 99 per cent. The cost could be as high as $41,000 for every percentage point.

For every one per cent getting through, that is costing an organisation. Lost productivity isn’t the only cost, as firms must also pay for security and archive more email because of spam.

Mar 19, 2009

We are always marketing ourselves

Where to start been more effective with e-mail at the workplace?

First of all, we need to be more aware of the fact that in all areas of contemporary society, we are always marketing ourselves as individuals.

This means that we need to take more into account the fact that we are always affecting the perception others have of us. We are always influencing that perception positively or negatively. There is no such thing as “no influence” or “neutral influence”.

We affect others with what we do or don’t do, and also with what we say or don’t say. So, we start defining our personal marketing and communication plan with the following questions:

* "How do I want to be known and remembered as a professional?"

* "With what values do I want others to associate me?"

The answers to these questions provide the guide we need on the type of actions we must take to positively affect others and obtain the professional perception we desire.

Second, we need to have a wide perspective of who our "clients" are. This can easily and efficiently be established answering the following question: "Who can speak about me, positively or negatively, as a professional and as a person?".

Our marketing strategies and tactics must be oriented towards all of them. Our clients are the individuals with whom we interact directly or indirectly, who are important to us professionally, and who can recommend us to others.

In a society where jobs are so interconnected, “external clients” are just as important for our personal marketing as are our co-workers, including bosses at all levels, the staff in other departments, and suppliers.

Yes, this answer is very broad because the most frequent marketing mistakes are made in part by underestimating the range of influence that the public or audience with whom we interact as clients have.

Finally, being more aware of our personal marketing implies being more aware of the tools we use to communicate our skills, competencies, values, and benefits. That is, we need to keep our interpersonal communication channels and media fine tuned.

These are made up by all our interpersonal communications, whether face-to-face, telephonic, or through e-mail, and by the form and content we convey through these means. That is, our body and our behavior are like our mobile marketing channels, with verbal and non-verbal messages.

In this context, e-mail increasingly has a greater impact on the professional image we project as individuals. Therefore, a better understanding of the factors that make written communication effective will allow us to assertively manage those aspects that determine our reputation through that medium.

Mar 14, 2009

"Email at the workplace" on Amazon's Kindle

Now, you can read the book "E-mail at the workplace. Survival Guide. Solutions and Tips", on your Amazon's Kindle.

You only need this device, which let you read e-books (special formatted to Kindle). Then, you have to download the book electronic file on Amazon.com.

Beside you can see more information about the content of this book thanks to Google Books's service.

Mar 9, 2009

Personal marketing through e-mail

Your professional opportunities depend on your reputation.

If you want to improve your chances for professional growth, you need to be more aware of the importance of your permanent marketing as an individual.

The same marketing techniques companies use to create a commercial brand, so consumers perceive it in a positive light and prefer it, can be used by professionals when they look for a job or in their work experience.

Brands of products, services or companies create a unique image and use it in a planned manner to attract and maintain clients and consumers. Professionals can also plan their image to attract the ideal employers or to have better job opportunities.

Commercial marketing is the challenge brands face to communicate their values and benefits, presenting an image that differentiates them from the competition and makes them desirable brands.

Isn’t this the same challenge we face when we look for a job or when we want to improve our possibilities in our present positions?

The concept of “personal brand” is not common for people who are not in the arts, sports, or other professions where the public opinion is relevant. However, if people looking for a job or planning their professional development in a company don’t build a strong positive image, it will be more difficult to attract attention to their qualities, values, and particularly, the benefits they offer.

The personal brand is the quantitative and qualitative addition of your professional career in an integrated manner, and the image of the person that constitutes it. Therefore, planning and developing a personal brand has significant advantages:

* It helps us generate professional interest and positively catch the attention of clients, bosses, colleagues, friends, and potential employers.

* It allows us to focus on what we want people to remember most of our personal and professional qualities.

* It makes it easier to obtain trust and credibility, as a result of our coherent and consistent professional performance.

* It allows us to differentiate ourselves as workers.

Just as with the marketing of a product, if we don’t work on our own professional brand image, others will create one for us, and it is quite likely that it won’t be what we want or what we are interested in projecting.